Going to a rehab center can be intimidating. It’s an entirely new area for most people, and you might worry that you might not receive quality treatment. Fortunately, there are many treatment options on top of traditional detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient care, etc., and these can supplement your addiction recovery care and improve your odds of achieving long-term sobriety.
Alternative treatments like recreational therapy (RT) or therapeutic recreation are becoming a more common treatment option for drug and alcohol addiction. Reputable rehab centers now offer these supplement therapies, because evidence increasingly shows that RT promotes long-term recovery in people with substance use disorder and lowers the likelihood of relapse.
Recreational therapists facilitate recreation activities that also help patients develop skills to combat alcohol and drug addiction. Though they are supposed to be fun, these sessions are still goal-oriented and have a lot of the same objectives as standard group therapy.
Recreational therapy can help promote self-esteem, communication skills, teamwork, and other valuable real-world skills. Under the direction of a skilled recreational therapist, the patient can open up in a comfortable setting and start to better understand themself.
RT is often used in the treatment of trauma, eating disorders, behavior disorders, anger management, grief and loss recovery, and substance abuse.
The goal of RT is to contribute to a person’s overall wellbeing by using activities that simulate real-world events and interactions. Additional benefits of RT include:
- Improved mood
- Increased motor skills and physical strength
- Social skills
- Improved sense of wellbeing
- Better quality of life
- Better time management and work-life balance
Types of Recreational Therapy
One of the more challenging aspects of long-term addiction recovery is changing your lifestyle and what you consider “fun.” After all, if your life used to revolve around drugs and alcohol, you’ll need new hobbies to replace your addiction. At The Woods at Parkside, we offer daily recreational therapy and music therapy to help our patients find new hobbies that are beneficial to their long-term recovery and assist in a smooth transition into a sober life. We currently offer the following types of recreational therapy:
- Pound Exercise Class: A recreational therapist leads patients through exercises that match their ability. These stimulate production of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which can improve mental health. In this way, patients learn to replace drinking or drug use with healthier, more productive hobbies.
- Yoga: An exercise class that focuses on mindfulness, stretching, and building core strength.
- Volleyball, Corn Hole, Ping Pong, and Basketball: These games help patients develop physical strength and build communication and teamwork skills.
- Nature Hiking: With beautiful trees behind our treatment center, we sometimes take patients out for fresh air and to enjoy a peaceful, natural setting.
You may have noticed that many of our recreational activities are physical. That’s because physical activity can improve both physical and mental health, especially for people going through addiction recovery.
It is common for people going through recovery to also suffer from co-occurring mental disorders, like depression and anxiety, in addition to addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2018, 9.2 million American adults reported being diagnosed with both mental illness and a substance use disorder. However, exercise and other forms of RT could offer a solution to these millions of Americans.
When you exercise, your brain releases five major chemicals that have positive effects on mental health disorders. By helping to minimize the effects of mental illness, these chemicals also help patients stay in recovery.
- Endorphins: The feel-good chemical that masks pain and triggers a euphoric feeling in the mind and body.
- Serotonin: The chemical that stabilizes moods, motor skills, sleep cycles, and much more. Many antidepressants work by helping your brain absorb more serotonin.
- Norepinephrine: The concentration chemical that affects your emotions, physical response time, memory recollection, and ability to focus.
- Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): The growth chemical in the brain that helps stimulate new brain cell growth. Because certain drugs kill brain cells, this is a beneficial chemical that can help promote recovery from the damage that long-term drug addiction causes.
- Dopamine: This reward chemical in the brain is an essential part of your brain’s processing of rewards, motivation, and comprehension. A recent study by researchers at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions discovered that regular aerobic exercise alters dopamine signaling in and makes alcohol and drugs less appealing and gratifying.
Recreational Therapy Can Help You
Recreational therapy for addiction is a remarkably effective treatment modality. When paired with traditional addiction treatment programs, recreational therapy can make a substantial difference in patient wellness following treatment. If you have any questions about our recreational therapy or other programs, please fill out this contact form or call our admissions specialists at 419-452-4818.